It’s perhaps unfair to judge a bar after three days of operation. But clutch your hats, dear readers: we had to send back a beer.
Though facing competition from stalwarts Craftheads and Baird Taproom, the latest craft-beer bar, Goodbeer Faucets comes with a pedigree—it is owned by the Goodbeer Club, which sells premium beer at goodbeer.jp. Expectations were high.
The setup is nice: a smoke-free interior (a respite in hazy Shibuya), counter space and windows, and a minimal decor. We found hints, however, that form had been chosen over function: the stylish stools were uncomfortable, and the tap system was not adequately cooled.
The menu was underwhelming. Though consisting of 42 pours, one-third was Baird’s entire lineup and the remainder was dominated by trendy hoppy brews, like Ballast Point Sculpin and BrewDog.
We skipped the food—Ibérico ham (¥500), goat-cheese salad (¥1,200)—and ordered Left Coast Trestles IPA (previously enjoyed at Craftheads) and BrewDog Chaos Theory (first tasting). Both were ¥1,100 for 400ml—a 200ml glass is usually about ¥750. The beers arrived separately, thanks to a German-style pouring technique plus some extraneous technology used by the waiters, who delivered orders to the bar via iPod Touch.
Thus, the Trestles came warmish. Most Indian Pale Ales can be served “cellar” temperature (12-14ºC), though you’ll often get them cooler from tap or bottle. US-style IPAs are best at slightly cooler (7-10 ºC), as they are often hop-heavy with a thinner body. Here, the ale had to be chugged down in two minutes or it became undrinkable.
The Chaos Theory was interesting, but a bit too heavy on the Simcoe hop for me. Again, it was undermined by treacly warmth; a bit colder, and it might have been earthily fragrant. It was a struggle to finish the pint.
At this point, we should have switched to heavier beers, best served warmer. There was an Imperial Red Ale on tap, as well as some stouts. Instead, we mistakenly opted for Shiroyama’s Lemongrass Ale, remembered as a slightly sweet, herbal beer, and of a lighter persuasion. After several minutes, during which the ale was spied warming up on the counter, it arrived. After the first unpleasant tepid sip we sent it back and asked for the check.
Our server graciously removed the last beer from our check, while explaining that the beer was warm because “we don’t chill our glasses here, unlike other bars.” Still, we were urged to return, and the problems would be fixed. Let’s hope so, as Goodbeer Faucets could offer a smoke-free break from Shibuya’s buzz.